Monday, December 14, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/14/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 12/14/2009Ayman al-Zawahiri is unhappy with President Obama. The No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda — should we call him “Bin Laden’s Joe Biden”? — evidently thinks that Mr. Obama is no better than George W. Bush, given the Light-Bringer’s recent policies towards Muslims in Afghanistan and “Palestine”. Al-Zawahiri says that President Obama is “at war with Islam”. If only.

In other news, the total number of Muslims in the UK has reportedly reached 2.4 million. EU Muslims cite Britain as their preferred destination, because the UK is the friendliest towards Islam.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, CSP, Esther, Gaia, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, Sean O’Brian, Steen, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Frank Gaffney: War Courts for War Criminals
Medicaid Cuts Will Affect Thousands on SoonerCare
Chanukah Celebrated in a Calgary Mosque
Europe and the EU
Black Nativity Angers Italy’s “White Xmas” Party
EU Parliament Ceiling Falls Down Again
France: Brawl Engulfs President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Grand Debate
Italy: Berlusconi in Pain, Will Remain Hospitalized
Norway: Teachers Go Wild After Christmas Party
Officials Say Priest Attacks Menorah in Moldova
Spain Sentences Barcelona Subway Terror Cell Men
UK: David Miliband Bans Envoys From Helping the BNP
UK: Just for Once, The Archbishop is Right … Treating Christians as Cranks is an Act of Cultural Suicide
UK: Judges Acted ‘Irresponsibly’ Over Binyam Mohammed, Says Foreign Office
UK: Millionaire Who Fought Off a Knife-Wielding Burglar is Jailed (While the Intruder is Let Off)
UK: Rocket-Shaped Minaret Sparks Row
UK: Single Mother of Eight Living in a £2.6m Mansion — So Much for Labour’s Housing Benefit Crackdown
UK: Sharia Law Sneaked Into Labour Budget
UK: Taliban Can be Admired for Their Faith and Loyalty, Says Bishop
UK: We Are Being Gagged: The Right to Speak Freely is Being Undermined by Those Who Should be Protecting it
Israel and the Palestinians
Barry Rubin: Why All the Excuses for Palestinian Intransigence Don’t Make Sense
Vandals Deface Russian Sacred Place in Jerusalem
Middle East
Air Strike ‘Kills 70 Civilians’ In Yemen
Military Mutiny in Iran?
Terrorism: Obama in ‘Crusade Against Islam’, Says Al-Qaeda No.2
South Asia
Al Qaeda Offers ‘Condolences’ For Innocent Victims
Allow Afghan Women to Give Massages: Army Adviser
British Forces Bishop Apologises for Suggesting Taliban Should be Praised for Their Faith and Sense of Loyalty
Indian Kashmir Women’s Deaths ‘Not Murder’
Malaysia Hearings Start in Catholic ‘Allah’ Fight
Pakistan: No Muslim Involved in Suicide Attacks in Country’
Pakistan: Four Suspected Blackwater Operatives Arrested in Islamabad
Rules of Engagement Killing U.S. Soldiers
Australia — Pacific
Rabbit-Proof Fence Grossly Inaccurate: Keith Windschuttle
Sub-Saharan Africa
Canada Recalls Spitting Diplomat From Tanzania
Pictured: Islamic Militants Stone Man to Death for Adultery in Somalia as Villagers Are Forced to Watch
Study Reveals Impact of Immigration on UK Faiths
UK: Muslim Total Hits 2.4m as They Say: UK’s Nicest to Us
Culture Wars
‘Witch Hunt’ Expected Under New U.S. ‘Hate Crimes’ Law
Garbage in, Global Warming Out
Inconvenient Truth for Al Gore as His North Pole Sums Don’t Add Up


Frank Gaffney: War Courts for War Criminals

A ticking political time bomb has been largely obscured by official Washington’s preoccupation with screwing up our health care system: Americans are dead-set against a foolish, ill-considered and reckless decision to give the 9/11 plotters civilian trials — and constitutional rights — within spitting distance of Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

And spit they will. A lawyer representing one of the accused has made clear that his client and the ringleader of the conspiracy, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) will plead not guilty, and use the trial as a platform to inveigh against this country and its policies.

Never mind that KSM and his friends had previously announced they would proudly admit their guilt and demand to be executed for this horrific war crime. Now, Attorney General Eric Holder has given them what the self-described mastermind of the September 11 attacks has wanted from the moment he was captured: A lawyer and a trial in New York…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Medicaid Cuts Will Affect Thousands on SoonerCare

OKLAHOMA CITY — The first round of Medicaid cuts will affect thousands of Oklahomans on SoonerCare, from their visits to the dentist to higher co-payments and prescription costs. But with the state’s budget crisis, more cuts could be coming and there are fears of what could be on the chopping block next.

Christmas is less than two weeks away. The tree is trimmed and stockings are hanging over the fireplace, but another thought is hanging over the Hill family this holiday.

“We got the equipment now and I don’t know if we’d lose it, but we wouldn’t be able to maintain it. I mean every six weeks, every time they want to check it out it was $500. Where do you come up with an extra $500,” said Mike Hill, whose daughter could be hurt by the cuts.

Kimberly Hill, 25, has Spinal Muscular Dystrophy. Her wheelchair and ventilator keep her going and Medicaid keeps them going, but cuts to the program could change all that.

“This equipment is vital to her living a normal life and without it they want to send her to a nursing home. Now we’re not going to let that happen, that just ends up being the way with life, and that’s debt and that’s the way we’ll go,” Mike Hill said.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board approved a $17 million cut in the state’s Medicaid program SoonerCare just days ago. Now this family fears funding for durable medical equipment for adults will be on the chopping block.

“If the revenue continues to come in short, we’re going to have to increase the amount of cuts in the future. And we’re going to have to make some even more difficult decisions, that’s not just cutting the muscle but also losing the limbs of the program,” said Deputy Chief Officer Nico Gomez of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

The equipment from Medicaid is a necessity that’s helping Kimberly graduate from OSU with a political science degree and volunteer for political campaigns. She said she’s scared and doesn’t want to be in a nursing home, but her family said they could be facing cuts in the next 3 months.

“We’re willing to fight do whatever necessary, do the research, help fight for all her friends who are all in the same situation and just fight till the end,” Kimberley’s father said.

The approved changes made to the services will go into effect January 1.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]


Chanukah Celebrated in a Calgary Mosque

It was all about dialogue Sunday at a Calgary mosque.

The Muslim community learned about the Jewish holiday Chanukah.

Muslim and Jewish families met at the Green Dome Islamic School and Mosque.

They spent the day sharing their beliefs and traditions, something both groups say is very important

“We live in a multi-cultural society and we have to know each other, we have to understand each other, we have to understand our values and customs which may be different from my values and customs so we need a better understanding of each other,” said Iman Syed Soharwardy with the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.

“There’s more things that are similar than are different in various faiths and it’s very important for people to get together and learn about each other and talk to one another and understand what those similarities are,” said Judy Shapiro with the Calgary Jewish Community Council.

Soharwardy says this is probably the first time Chanukah has been celebrated in a mosque.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Black Nativity Angers Italy’s “White Xmas” Party

ROME (Reuters) — A nativity scene featuring a dark-skinned Jesus, Mary and Joseph that has gone on display in a Verona courthouse has created heated debate in a city with strong links to Italy’s anti-immigration Northern League party.

The nativity’s appearance coincides with the League’s controversial operation “White Christmas,” a two-month sweep ending on Christmas Day to ferret out foreigners without proper permits in Coccaglio, a small League-led town east of Milan.

The Christmas scene — featuring a dark-skinned baby Jesus dressed in a red shirt and lying in a manger — was the idea of Mario Giulio Schinaia, the chief Public Prosecutor in Verona.

“History teaches us that baby Jesus and his parents were very probably dark-skinned,” Schinaia told Reuters. “This nativity belongs to a universal Christmas tradition that brings together the whole of Christianity in celebration.”

The nativity has caused heated reactions in the rich northern town, where resentment toward foreigners has spread as the number of immigrants, particularly from north Africa and eastern Europe, continues to rise.

“It is a useless act of provocation, just like the suggestion not to have a nativity scene at all, in order not to offend Muslims,” Northern League farm minister Luca Zaia told one paper, referring to proposals in recent years that town halls and stores should no longer sponsor Christmas scenes.

“Magistrates have other problems to deal with: I hope they spend as much time thinking about lawsuits and trials,” he said.

The Northern League, an ally of conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with key cabinet posts including the interior ministry, has used its growing political clout to secure tough new laws including making illegal immigration a crime.

League proposals have ranged from separate buses and trains for immigrants to banning new mosques and forbidding the serving of Chinese food and kebabs in towns under its control.

Schinaia defended his black nativity scene, saying it was not intended to be polemical but to encourage debate.

“There shouldn’t be a white or black Christmas, only a merry Christmas for everyone, of every skin color, ethnic background and nationality.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

EU Parliament Ceiling Falls Down Again

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Part of the ceiling in the EU parliament complex in Strasbourg fell down over the weekend, in the second such incident in 18 months.

The cave-in saw three concrete slabs, each measuring 25 square metres, in the Pierre Pflimlin office block give way on Saturday (12 December) following heavy rain, a parliament source said.

The offices, which normally house communications staff, were empty. But the collapse took place just 48 hours before MEPs and civil servants are due to arrive on Monday for the last plenary session of the year.

The building, named after a former parliament president from the 1980s, was inaugurated in 1991 at a cost of €38 million.

The latest incident comes after a 10-tonne chunk of the ceiling in the Strasbourg plenary chamber fell down in August 2008.

The 2008 cave-in saw parliament conduct an inspection of the entire complex, which exposed flaws in the construction of glass walkways, but which missed the Pflimlin problem.

The Strasbourg seat has been a source of embarrassment for MEPs in recent years.

In 2007 officials found alarming levels of asbestos. In 2006 it emerged that Strasbourg authorities had been overcharging the EU by millions of euros a year in rent for 25 years. In 2002 Legionnaires disease was found in the plumbing.

It has also become a symbol of bureaucratic waste.

Thousands of EU staff are forced to decamp from Brussels to Strasbourg 12 times a year due to a 1992 political deal between the UK and France naming it as the legislature’s official residence.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

France: Brawl Engulfs President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Grand Debate

A gathering of citizens in the eastern French city of Troyes has demonstrated the explosive nature of the “great national identity debate” launched by President Nicolas Sarkozy in an effort, say critics, to shore up support on the right.

About 100 people were seated in a hall to discuss what it meant to be French, one of dozens of debates on the subject being held around the country during the next few weeks. Laurent Bacari, a young schoolteacher, got to his feet.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi in Pain, Will Remain Hospitalized

ROME — Premier Silvio Berlusconi is in pain and will remain hospitalized until at least Tuesday with a fractured nose and two broken teeth from an attack by a mentally disturbed man who hit him in the face with a statuette, doctors and aides said.

The attack shocked Italy, already gripped by a tense political climate and highly polarized between Berlusconi’s supporters and his critics.

It also raised questions about the security surrounding the premier. A government official said he expected the premier’s protection to be tightened, as security officials held an emergency meeting.

The 73-year-old Berlusconi was rushed to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan with his face covered in blood after the attack in the northern Italian city Sunday afternoon.

TV footage showed that the assailant had come close to Berlusconi and hurled a souvenir statue of Milan’s Duomo, the Gothic cathedral that is a symbol of the city, hitting him in the face. Italian newspapers say the statuette was made of metal.

The attacker, a 42-year-old man with a history of psychological problems, has been arrested. After a night of questioning at a police barracks, the man was moved to the San Vittore prison in Milan, the ANSA news agency said. Police have identified him as Massimo Tartaglia.

The premier lost a lot of blood and is taking antibiotics and drugs for “persistent” pain, the hospital said at midday. His vital signs are normal and he is eating with difficulty but will not need surgery, his doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said.

Berlusconi’s spokesman said the premier is tired and has a strong headache.

“We try to keep him at rest. He would like to re-immerse himself into his frantic activity, but doctors say caution is necessary,” Paolo Bonaiuti told Italian media.

The premier asked to see newspapers upon waking up at the hospital Monday and was visited by aides, Bonaiuti said.

The premier had to scrap some plans, including a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Rome on Wednesday, his office said. The attack also put at risk Berlusconi’s participation at a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was scheduled to travel on Thursday.

Berlusconi received calls and well get-well wishes from Italian and foreign officials, including the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Berlusconi’s entry into politics has further polarized a society that is traditionally divided into fiercely opposed factions. Along with widespread solidarity for the premier, groups praising Berlusconi’s assailant mushroomed on Facebook in the aftermath of the attack.

Roberto Maroni, who as interior minister is in charge of police forces, said he had counted some 300 Facebook groups praising Tartaglia. He also mentioned Youtube videos showing the attack with comments inciting more violence.

Maroni, who presided over the meeting in Milan, said the security detail would be reviewed, but he also added he did not see any immediate faults. Typically, about 30 secret service agents protect Berlusconi at his public appearances. But the premier, who considers himself a man of the people with a taste for showmanship, also likes to mingle with his supporters and shake hands.

“Berlusconi has the right to get close to his supporters because this is democracy, this is politics,” said Maroni.

Aides and other people who have seen Berlusconi in recent days describe him as worried by what he called a climate of hatred surrounding him.

Zangrillo, who is Berlusconi’s personal physician and the first one to come to the premier’s aide after the attack, said Berlusconi was shocked.

“Staring at his bloodied hand, he told me: ‘There’s a climate of hatred, I expected this would happen,’“ Zangrillo was quoted as saying by Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading newspaper. Bonaiuti, Berlusconi’s spokesman, had similar comments.

Berlusconi is entangled in a sex scandal and faces criminal trials for corruption in Milan after an immunity law was overturned earlier this year. He has faced protests, with tens of thousands marching in Rome on Dec. 5 to demand his resignation. And a turncoat recently alleged Berlusconi had ties to the Mafia, an accusation Berlusconi has forcefully dismissed.

Berlusconi himself has launched vehement attacks at the judiciary, saying the magistrates who put him on trial are politically motivated.

[Return to headlines]

Norway: Teachers Go Wild After Christmas Party

From Norwegian: Teachers in an elementary school in Sunndal went wild after a Christmas party, throwing furniture out of the windows.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Officials Say Priest Attacks Menorah in Moldova


CHISINAU, Moldova — Dozens of people led by an Orthodox priest smashed a menorah in Moldova’s capital, using hammers and iron bars to remove the candelabra during Hanukkah, officials said.

The 1.5 meter(5-foot)-tall ceremonial candelabrum was retrieved, reinstalled and is now under police guard.

Police said they were investigating the Sunday attack but there was no official reaction from Moldova’s Orthodox Church, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and counts 70 percent of Moldovans as members.

The U.S. Embassy and Chisinau city government condemned the attack. City officials called on the church to investigate. The head of the church, Bishop Vladimir Cantarean, was at his mother’s funeral in Ukraine on Monday and was expected to make a statement when he returns, the church said.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Spain Sentences Barcelona Subway Terror Cell Men

A Spanish court has sentenced 11 men to prison sentences for belonging to a terror cell plotting to stage suicide bomb attacks in Barcelona.

The group of men — 10 from Pakistan and one from India — were accused of conspiring to blow up part of the city’s transport network.

Police discovered the plan during a series of raids in January 2008 after a cell member approached the police.

The men received sentences of up to 14 years in prison.

The judges in the case said the men had been found guilty of belonging to a terror organisation but not of actually conspiring to stage a terror attack as the amount of explosives found was insufficient to do so.

The group’s ringleader, Ahmed Mirza, a 40-year-old imam, was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison.

Judge Gomez Bermudez said that the cell had plotted to detonate their bombs on Barcelona’s metro system, in an echo of the 2004 Madrid bombings that killed 191 people.

The prosecution said the bomb had been planned to proceed the 2008 general elections in response to the presence of Spanish troops in Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

UK: David Miliband Bans Envoys From Helping the BNP

David Miliband has secretly banned British embassy staff from giving help to BNP leader Nick Griffin.

The Foreign Secretary has also ordered diplomats not to assist the far-Right party’s other MEP, former National Front leader Andrew Brons.

A letter, entitled ‘Handling Extremist MEPs’ and marked ‘Restricted’, was circulated to the heads of Britain’s European embassies after the pair were elected to the European Parliament in June.

Written by Matthew Rycroft, the UK’s top European Union diplomat, it says far-Right MEPs, like other British members of the European Parliament, can be sent ‘factual written briefings’ on policy issues but nothing else.

British MEPs from mainstream parties can normally expect private briefings from officials and to be offered the chance to meet diplomats and Ministers.

Mr Rycroft wrote: ‘FCO Ministers have decided that there should be no other contact with MEPs of any nationality who represent racist or extremist views.’

The letter adds that other Government offices have also been advised to restrict help. As a direct consequence of the policy — revealed after a Freedom of Information Act request — the BNP MEPs have not been invited to two Foreign Office receptions.

Last night, the Foreign Office said the letter was to remind diplomats of the ‘longstanding’ policy on those who represent racist views.

The disclosure follows the row over Mr Miliband’s attack on the Conservatives’ alliance with the Latvian Fatherland And Freedom Party and one of its MEPs who, the Foreign Secretary said, had an ‘anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi past’.

But it also comes after Labour’s decision to abandon its policy of not sharing the same platform with the BNP — paving the way for Nick Griffin’s controversial appearance on Question Time with Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

UK: Just for Once, The Archbishop is Right … Treating Christians as Cranks is an Act of Cultural Suicide

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, comes in for a lot of stick — not least from columnists like me.

But in the past few days, he has said something important. He has criticised Government ministers for thinking that Christian beliefs are no longer relevant in modern Britain, and for looking at religion as a ‘problem’.

Many Government faith initiatives, he observed, assumed that religion was an eccentricity practised by oddballs, foreigners and minorities.

This is not just a seasonal exercise in special pleading by a Church leader. Dr Williams has put his finger on what should be a cause of extreme disquiet — the war of attrition being waged against Christian beliefs.

In recent times, there has been a string of cases in which it is no exaggeration to say that British Christians have been persecuted for expressing their faith.


The curious fact is that Labour’s hostility to faith is highly selective. It does everything it can to protect and support minority creeds while appearing to do everything it can to attack Christianity.

The root of this double standard is the unpleasant prejudice that minority faiths hail from cultures where people are less well-educated and so cannot be blamed for their beliefs. This, of course, is a deeply racist attitude, and is commonly found on the Left.


Unlike U.S. mainstream Churches which, as descendants from the English Puritans, remain deeply wedded to the Biblical tradition, the Church of England has always looked down on true Scriptural believers as half-wits.

With such a half-hearted foundation of religious belief, it has been more vulnerable than other Churches to the secular onslaught against religion.

Dr Williams exemplifies this weakness by trying to go with the flow of social change and is for ever apologising for Christianity.

Certainly, it did some terrible things in the past to people of other faiths. But it is also responsible for the astonishing achievements of western civilisation.

Rather than complaining about politicians, Dr Williams should use his office to teach the nation about the seminal importance of Christianity to this society. But to do that, he has to have faith in his own Church — a faith that too often appears to be lacking.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Judges Acted ‘Irresponsibly’ Over Binyam Mohammed, Says Foreign Office

Lawyers for the Foreign Secretary have launched an extraordinary courtroom attack on High Court judges who want to disclose intelligence material related to allegations of torture involving the CIA.

David Miliband accused the two senior judges of irresponsibly “charging in” to a diplomatically sensitive area over what happened to former terror detainee Binyam Mohamed while held by the Americans in Pakistan.

Jonathan Sumption QC, appearing for the Foreign Secretary, told the Court of Appeal the judges’ stance was “both, in many respects, unnecessary and profoundly damaging to the interests of this country”.

Mr Sumption added: “I would go so far as to say their views were irresponsible.”

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

UK: Millionaire Who Fought Off a Knife-Wielding Burglar is Jailed (While the Intruder is Let Off)

A millionaire businessman who fought back against a knife-wielding burglar was jailed for two-and-a-half years yesterday. But his attacker has been spared prison.

Munir Hussain, 53, and his family were tied up and told to lie on the floor by career criminal Waled Salem, who burst into his home with two other masked men.

Mr Hussain escaped and attacked Salem with a metal pole and a cricket bat. But yesterday it was the businessman who was starting a prison sentence for his ‘very violent revenge’.

Jailing him, Judge John Reddihough said some members of the public would think that 56-year-old Salem ‘deserved what happened to him’ and that Mr Hussain ‘should not have been prosecuted’.

But had he spared Mr Hussain jail, the judge said, the ‘rule of law’ would collapse.

He said: ‘If persons were permitted to take the law into their own hands and inflict their own instant and violent punishment on an apprehended offender rather than letting the criminal justice system take its course, then the rule of law and our system of criminal justice, which are hallmarks of a civilised society, would collapse.’

Salem, who has previous convictions, has already been given a non-custodial sentence despite carrying out what the judge called a ‘serious and wicked’ attack.

Mr Hussain’s nightmare began on September 3 last year when he, his wife, 18-year-old daughter and two sons aged 18 and 15 returned from their mosque during Ramadan to find three intruders in their home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

They were tied up and told to get on the floor if they did not want to be killed. One of Mr Hussain’s sons managed to escape and alerted Mr Hussain’s younger brother Tokeer, 35, who lived a few doors away.

Mr Hussain made a break for freedom by throwing a coffee table at his attackers. He and Tokeer chased the gang and brought Salem to the ground in a front garden.

Reading Crown Court heard how Mr Hussain and his brother then beat Salem while he lay on the ground, using a cricket bat, a pole and a hockey stick — leaving him with a fractured skull and brain damage following the ‘sustained’ attack.

What is the law on defending your home?

If you use force which is ‘not excessive’ against burglars then the law is on your side.

Last year’s Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill contained clauses to protect people from prosecution if they act instinctively and out of fear for their safety.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:

‘Law-abiding citizens should not be put off tackling criminals by fear of excessive investigation.

‘For a passer-by witnessing a street crime or a householder faced with a burglar, we are reassuring them that if they use force which is not excessive or disproportionate, the law really is behind them.’

Salem’s condition meant he was unable to enter a plea to false imprisonment. He was given a non-custodial sentence-in October.

Salem, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, did not give evidence at Mr Hussain’s trial. Michael Wolkind, QC, representing Mr Hussain, who runs a soundproofing company, said his client’s actions were ‘taken in the agony of the moment’ and that his ‘calm judgment was not available’.

‘If there was a call to arms it was down to the extreme moment of stress,’ he said. Mr Wolkind said Mr Hussain, a devout Muslim, blamed himself for the attack and felt guilty for not protecting his family properly. ‘It will take him a number of years to recover,’ he said.

The court also heard from psychiatrist Dr Phillip Joseph who said Mr Hussain was a calm person who kept himself in control, but that his body had chosen the ‘fight rather than flight’ option.

During mitigation a number of letters from Daily Mail readers who had supported a campaign against the businessman’s conviction were read to the judge.

The court heard that Mr Hussain’s wife Shahwen has had a mini stroke since the attack.

Judge Reddihough sentenced Munir Hussain to 30 months in jail for grievous bodily harm with intent. Tokeer was given 39 months because the judge said he had not faced as much provocation as his brother.

‘However, the attack which then occurred was totally unnecessary and amounted to a very violent revenge attack on a defenceless man.

‘It may be that some members of the public or media commentators will assert that Salem deserved what happened to him, and that you should not have been prosecuted and need not be punished.

‘The courts must make it clear that such conduct is criminal and unacceptable.’

Razi Shah, Mr Hussain’s solicitor, said his family were devastated but hoped the conviction could be overturned at appeal.

Last night an MP condemned the decision to jail Mr Hussain as ‘perverse’. Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘It’s absolutely disgraceful. The public are sick to the back teeth of this kind of decision.

‘Whatever the rights and wrongs, the starting point should be that this man’s home was violated. He must have been absolutely petrified.

‘A person who inflicts this kind of misery is free to go out and do it again somewhere. It’s always the same, the real criminals get away scot free.’

The 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act sets out the terms on which people might ‘use no more force than absolutely necessary’ against criminals.

Victims or those who intervene to stop a criminal have the backing of the law if they act instinctively, if they fear for their safety and act accordingly, if they act to prevent a criminal escaping, or if their use of force is neither ‘excessive nor disproportionate’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Rocket-Shaped Minaret Sparks Row

A DECISION to build a huge rocket-shaped minaret and two giant arches in the style of Muslim headscarves on one of Britain’s most historic streets is sparking outrage and risks escalating racial tension, according to community leaders.

Council chiefs in the east London borough of Tower Hamlets are using millions of pounds of public money to push through the bizarre scheme in Brick Lane, a symbolic melting pot of immigrant communities for more than 400 years.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Single Mother of Eight Living in a £2.6m Mansion — So Much for Labour’s Housing Benefit Crackdown

A year after the Government vowed to crack down on housing benefits, a single mother of eight is still living in a £2.6million mansion funded by taxpayers.

Francesca Walker receives more than £90,000 a year in housing allowance to meet the rent on the five-bedroom villa, plus other payouts of £15,000.

A defiant Miss Walker, 34, insists that she and her children aged from six to 16 are completely justified in living there as the council could not find them a big enough home.

And, bizarrely, she claims that ‘living in this house is holding me back’.

Miss Walker, whose near neighbours include David Cameron, Elle Macpherson and Hugh Grant, said: ‘I’ve started my own business making organic soaps and bath products but any money I make I have to pay straight back to the council so there’s no incentive for me to work hard to grow my business.

Picture: Francesca Walker with Mohammed, daughter Rashida and son Moustapha in her £2.6million mansion


Miss Walker was given the house last September on a three-year lease because a rule introduced in April 2008 forces local authorities to place tenants in private properties if suitable council homes are unavailable.

This was intended to promote fairness but has caused, in some cases, huge cost to the taxpayer.

Last month, it was revealed that a Somali family of nine are living in a £1.8million central London house costing £1,600 a week.

And a family of eight Afghan immigrants have been housed for the last 14 months in a £ 1.2million house in Ealing, West London, at a cost so far of £168,000.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Sharia Law Sneaked Into Labour Budget

THE Treasury plans to rewrite Britain’s tax rules to usher in a new wave of Sharia law for the country’s financial system.

The one-line revelation is buried in the 212-page pre-Budget report.

It is among a string of startling details which barely merit a mention in Alistair Darling’s controversial mini-Budget — prompting fresh accusations that Labour is “burying bad news”.

The Government wants to tap into the fast-growing Sharia finance market, set to top £205billion a year, and turn London into the “global gateway for Islamic finance”.

Many conventional financial products are not Sharia compliant because Muslim clerics view conventional loans, which involve interest payments, as sinful.

The UK Government was one of the first Western countries to issue a state-backed sukuk, an Islamic bond. It now wants to rewrite tax laws to stop Muslim businessmen being unfairly taxed when they try to raise money on their companies.

Conventional loans allow them to take equity out of their business, using the property as collateral, but to be Sharia compliant a Muslim “sells” the business to the bank and then rents it back. That leaves the businessman facing a bill for capital gains tax and the Treasury wants to level the tax playing field.

Mohammed Amin, head of Islamic finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “The UK has become the leading Western country in Islamic finance by taking a series of measures to ensure that Islamic finance is taxed no worse and no better than conventional finance.

“The pre-Budget report continues this progress by including measures to equalise the tax treatment of property refinancing transactions.” Ministers are also considering issuing Government bonds to Islamic banks to help them comply with new financial regulations.

With three independent Islamic banks and high street names at the forefront of compliant accounts, London is one of the world’s largest centres for Islamic finance.

Sharia-compliant mortgages, car insurance and even baby bonds are available for Muslims wanting to avoid “riba” — interest payments.

Supporters say the Government is wisely getting in on the ground floor of a market which could net the City billions in the future.

Critics warn Labour is rushing into a financial system it does not fully understand and question how far laws should be rewritten to accommodate Islamic practices. The Financial Services Authority says its policy is one of “no obstacles, no special favours” for Islamic finance.

Last week’s pre-Budget report includes the revelation that bankers will still net £4.5billion in bonuses this year despite the so-called super-tax on the City.

Ministers also used the cover of the report to admit the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme, permitting deferment of interest payments, has been an abject failure.

Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps said: “It’s gone the way of many other Brown initiatives. We’ve stumped up for the expensive consultancy bills but the actual scheme has failed to help more than a handful of hard-pressed families.”

A Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: “The Government has widely publicised that fortunately only 15 families have so far needed the backstop help of the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Taliban Can be Admired for Their Faith and Loyalty, Says Bishop

The Rt Rev Stephen Venner called for a more sympathetic approach to the Islamic fundamentalists that recognises their humanity.

The Church of England’s Bishop to the Forces warned that it will be harder to reach a peaceful solution to the war if the Afghan insurgents are portrayed too negatively.

His comments came as the Prime Minister visited Afghanistan and warned that the Taliban was fighting a “guerilla war” aimed at causing “maximum damage”. Gordon Brown said soldiers were discovering improvised explosive devices every two hours.

Mr Brown stayed overnight in the Allied base in the southern city of Kandahar, the first British Prime Minister to spend the night in a war zone since Winston Churchill. His visit came days after the death of Lance Corporal Adam Drane, the 100th member of the British forces to die in Afghanistan this year. His death brought the total number of British service personnel who have died since the start of operations in 2001 to 237.

Bishop Venner stressed his admiration for the sacrifices made by the British forces fighting in Afghanistan but also urged the need for a reassessment of how the Taliban are viewed.

“We’ve been too simplistic in our attitude towards the Taliban,” said Bishop Venner, who was recently commissioned in his new role by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“There’s a large number of things that the Taliban say and stand for which none of us in the west could approve, but simply to say therefore that everything they do is bad is not helping the situation because it’s not honest really.

“The Taliban can perhaps be admired for their conviction to their faith and their sense of loyalty to each other.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

UK: We Are Being Gagged: The Right to Speak Freely is Being Undermined by Those Who Should be Protecting it

The dismissal of the case against Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang is a victory for common sense, but the right of free speech, which has been at the heart of our democracy for centuries, is being stealthily eroded.

Common sense has, for once, prevailed. The criminal case — yes, criminal case — against a Christian couple, Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, has been dismissed.

Hopefully, the Vogelenzangs can get on with their lives and start to rebuild their hotel business — a business that has almost been destroyed because of the allegations against them.

Thanks to the donations of thousands of Christians, The Christian Institute was able to pay for Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang’s legal defence. We did so because it was a significant case of free speech, not just for Christians, but for every person’s right to question someone else’s beliefs.


Everyone now knows about the Vogelenzangs but at The Christian Institute we deal with many other cases. Indeed, over the past year, we have dealt with approximately 170 separate incidents where Christians have had their liberty infringed, only a fraction of which ever make headlines.

We might also consider redefining so-called ‘hate crimes’ and ‘hate incidents’. The definition of ‘hate’ is alarmingly elastic.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Barry Rubin: Why All the Excuses for Palestinian Intransigence Don’t Make Sense

The Arab-Israeli, or Israel-Palestinian, conflict is the most misrepresented subject in the entire world. The most basic facts are often distorted and the most fantastical of narratives provided, even in college classrooms, about what has actually happened.

On the most single important issue in this framework-why isn’t there peace, who wants and doesn’t want peace, and how can peace be achieved-there is a common set of arguments against Israel. It goes like this:

How can the Palestinians make peace when they are suffering so much and when Israel builds settlements, or Israeli leaders make statements saying they want to keep some of the territory or won’t give up east Jerusalem, or do a variety of other things? The idea that the Palestinians yearn for peace, are eagerly trying to make some kind of agreement, but are only stopped by Israeli intransigence seems completely self-evident to the point that any challenge of this idea is ridiculed, ignored, or treated as some kind of dishonest manipulation.

People think that when they’ve made these points it constitutes some kind of devastating, unanswerable rebuttal proving why there is no peace and why Israel is responsible. In fact, these statements are all either long outdated or simply beside the point.

In addition, many of the things said are factually wrong. Israel has neither constructed new settlements nor expanded their boundaries for fifteen years. But for the moment let’s leave aside the factual issues. It is easy to show that these claims are inaccurate but either ears are shut or the columns of the publications are closed to such responses.

Still, nothing could be simpler than to answer these claims.

Here’s the answer…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Vandals Deface Russian Sacred Place in Jerusalem

Unknown vandals have defaced an Orthodox Holy Trinity cathedral in Jerusalem, the Russian clerical mission’s official website reports.

“Two red inscriptions in Hebrew reading ‘Death’ and ‘Death to Christians’ have appeared on the altar of the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral,” the statement says.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Air Strike ‘Kills 70 Civilians’ In Yemen

The Saudi Arabia air force has bombed a market in Yemen killing 70 civilians, rebels in the north of the country say.

The rebels, known as Houthis, have been fighting Saudi and Yemeni forces since August this year and accuse the Saudis of frequent attacks across the border.

Bani Maan, the village hit by the air raid is in the border region between Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

The Yemeni army has reportedly claimed it carried out the attack, not Saudi Arabian forces.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Military Mutiny in Iran?

Leading commentators and diplomats have been pondering for quite some time why the Iranian leader is not prepared to act against the revolution in a major way. The “China model” could be applied, a brutal, fast, and extremely violent strike against the opposition. According to conventional wisdom, tyrants will use all means to eliminate their opponents. So why haven’t the mullahs adopted Chinese methods?

Tanks and soldiers

Applied to the Islamic Republic of Iran, it means the following:

  • At a given time (e.g., around three o’clock in the morning) soldiers would raid the cities and arrest everybody suspected of even the slightest “green” revolutionary inclination.
  • All communications with the outside world would be temporarily shut down.
  • People would wake up with a statement by the leader proclaiming the definitive end of all demonstrations. Then thousands would be executed.

Speed and brutality are the key aspects of the China model. Why does Khamenei not activate this model?

This summer he did consider this, before he became ill. He even gave carte blanche for the arrest of opposition leader Mousavi. But Khamenei has subsequently stopped its implementation. Why? Because he had been told that this would provoke an explosion that would likely engulf him and his regime.

Revolutionary Guards

At the time, I also heard another reason, which, if true, would be the main reason. There are serious doubts about the military itself. The army and parts of the Revolutionary Guards (abbreviated as RG) would, under those circumstances, choose the side of the opposition and the people. The military power of Khamenei would be broken. This, however, was speculation without proof.

Now there is evidence to support it. On December 10, a statement signed by a number of officers and commanders of the Iranian army was released. The regular army of Iran had not been involved in the suppression of the population.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Terrorism: Obama in ‘Crusade Against Islam’, Says Al-Qaeda No.2

Dubai, 14 Dec. (AKI) — An audio message purported to be the voice of Al-Qaeda’s number two Ayman al-Zawahiri has accused US president Barack Obama of engaging in a crusade against Islam. “What American president Barack Obama is doing is nothing more than a new episode of his crusader war against Islam,” said al-Zawahiri, in the 26-minute-long message posted to Islamist websites.

He also spoke about the Palestinian question and the division between the Gaza-ruling movement Hamas and the West Bank ruling Fatah.

Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor, asked both Palestinian political groups to carry out a jihad or holy war.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Al Qaeda Offers ‘Condolences’ For Innocent Victims

(CNN) — An al Qaeda spokesman released a video message in English offering condolences to its “unintended Muslim victims” killed in attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, appeared in a 17-minute video released on Islamist online forums late Friday.

Al Qaeda “have condemned and continue to condemn” all attacks by Western powers or “secular political forces,” Gadahn said.

“We express our condolences to the families of the Muslim men, women and children killed in these criminal acts,” he said in the video. “And we ask Allah to have mercy on those killed and accept them as shohadaa (martyrs).”

“We also express the same in regard to the unintended Muslim victims of the mujahedeen’s operations against the crusaders and their allies and puppets, and to the countless faceless and nameless Muslim victims of the murderous crusades” in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s Waziristan regions and Swat Valley, and elsewhere, he said.

It is a rare example of al Qaeda offering condolences to the families of those killed in the group’s own attacks.


The video did not address the troop surge, but Gadahn had a general warning to any countries partnering with the United States in the region.

“Those who have made the foolish decision to stand with America and its allies in their losing war against Islam … you have not only betrayed Islam and Muslims and left the fold of faith, but you have also caused the destabilization of nations and the displacement … of thousands of weak and oppressed people,” Gadahn said.

“The blood of countless Muslims is on your hands, and the security and very future of the countries you claim to defend and serve has been placed in jeopardy because your external enemies are taking advantage of your heedlessness as you fight and kill your fellow countrymen for American dollars.”

The al Qaeda member is an American-born Muslim convert who has released video and audio statements in the past.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Allow Afghan Women to Give Massages: Army Adviser

A Swedish army gender adviser in Afghanistan has taken the Armed Forces to task for only employing local men to perform massages on troops stationed in Mazar-E-Sharif.

In a written internal document submitted from Swedish headquarters at Camp Northern Lights, Gender Field Adviser Captain Krister Fahlstedt of Afghanistan force FS17 took exception to an army contract specifying that on-base massage services should be performed by men..

“The agreement specifies, with no further explanation, that the physiotherapists (masseurs/masseuses) should be men,” wrote Fahlstedt in his November submission.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

British Forces Bishop Apologises for Suggesting Taliban Should be Praised for Their Faith and Sense of Loyalty

A church of England bishop has apologised for suggesting the Taliban should be admired for their religious conviction and loyalty.

The Right Reverend Stephen Venner, the Church’s bishop for the Armed Forces, acknowledged that his comments appeared ‘incredibly insensitive’ and stressed his support for British troops in Afghanistan.

He said he was ‘deeply grieved’ to have caused offence.

But one MP accused him of offering ‘comfort and succour to our enemies’ with his remarks.

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat member for the garrison town of Colchester in Essex, said: ‘Why did he not talk about the loyalty of our troops?

‘The bishop would have been well advised to concentrate on boosting the morale of our armed forces rather than boosting the morale of our enemy.’

Dr Venner, 65, later apologised for his comments in a newspaper interview.

He said it was ‘one small phrase in quite a long interview’ intended to suggest that not all members of the Taliban were ‘equally evil’.

He told the BBC: ‘If that has caused offence, I am deeply grieved by it because that’s the very last thing I would want to do.’

Dr Venner also issued a statement condemning the Taliban’s tactics and expressing his backing for UK forces.

He said: ‘The way the Taliban are waging war in Afghanistan is evil, both in their use of indiscriminate killing and their terrorising of the civilian population.

‘No religion could condone their actions. I give my full support to the British and allied troops who are engaged in the country.’

Dr Venner, who retired as Bishop of Dover last month, was commissioned in his new role by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Indian Kashmir Women’s Deaths ‘Not Murder’

Two Muslim women whose deaths sparked major independence rallies in Indian Kashmir earlier this year were not murdered, investigators said on Monday.

Many Kashmiris opposed to New Delhi’s rule over the Muslim-majority region have accused Indian security forces of raping the 17-year-old girl and her 22-year-old sister-in-law before their bodies were found in a shallow stream.

“The CBI today handed over its report to the high court. It says the women had drowned and had not been raped or murdered,” Central Bureau of Investigation lawyer Anil Bhan told reporters in Srinagar.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Malaysia Hearings Start in Catholic ‘Allah’ Fight

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church urged a court Monday to let Christians use “Allah” as a translation for God and overturn a government ban that has become a symbol of religious grievances in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

The High Court began hearing legal arguments in the dispute, which began in late 2007 after the government blocked non-Muslims from translating God as “Allah” in their literature, saying it would confuse Muslims..

Authorities have insisted that Allah should be used exclusively by Muslims to refer to God, and its use by other religions would be misleading.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: No Muslim Involved in Suicide Attacks in Country’

KARACHI: Floating the idea of a change in the Pakistani society, Jamaat-e-Islami’s top leadership at a congregation of the JI’s workers unanimously blamed the United States’ agencies for terrorism, chaos and anarchy in Pakistan.

“The US wants international control on the Pakistani nukes, and terrorism is just a pretext to achieve that target,” said JI’s chief Munawar Hassan at a one-day training congregation held at Nishtar Park on Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Four Suspected Blackwater Operatives Arrested in Islamabad

Islamabad, Dec. 13 (ANI): Four alleged agents of American spy agency Blackwater were arrested by Pakistani security agencies while they were trying to forcibly trying to enter into Lahore Cantonment on Saturday.

According to The Nation, lethal weapons including AK-47 rifles and spy gadgets were recovered from their possession at a checkpost near Sherpao Bridge.

Sources said that security personnel intercepted a suspected vehicle near Sherpao Bridge in which four foreigners were sitting.

The sources further revealed that the suspects started arguing with the law-enforcing agency officials. When the arrested agents failed to produce necessary documents and the purpose of entering into the most sensitive area in the city, they were arrested and taken to an unidentified location for further interrogation.

Following their arrest, the law-enforcement agencies have been put on high alert across the provincial metropolis and armed patrolling had been intensified.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Rules of Engagement Killing U.S. Soldiers

You won’t believe how politics handcuff troops in Afghanistan

New military rules of engagement ostensibly to protect Afghan civilians are putting the lives of U.S. forces in jeopardy, claim Army and Marine sources, as the Taliban learns to game plan based the rules’ imposed limits.

The rules of engagement, or ROEs, apply to all coalition forces of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Their enactment is in response to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s complaints over mounting civilian deaths apparently occurring in firefights.

Despite the fact that the newly arrived U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, imposed the more restrictive ROEs to minimize the killing of innocent civilians, however, the Taliban is well aware of them and has its own forces acting in ways to counteract them.

The impact of new restrictions has created increasing frustration and concern among U.S. Army and Marine Corps troops who now are compelled to follow these rules despite the danger of letting the Taliban live to fight again another day.

Critics see the new ROEs being more oriented toward defensive rather than offensive operations, as evidenced by recent charges of murder against two U.S. Army snipers because they had targeted a Taliban commander who reportedly wasn’t holding a weapon.

The actual ROEs are said to be classified U.S. and NATO secrets, but based on individual soldier accounts, those restrictions include the following:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Rabbit-Proof Fence Grossly Inaccurate: Keith Windschuttle

RABBIT-PROOF Fence, the film that in the eyes of millions of children around Australia tells the true story of the Stolen Generations, is “grossly inaccurate” and should be withdrawn from schools.

Keith Windschuttle, a frontline warrior in the history wars, has questioned the veracity of the film — though not the book on which it was based — in the third volume of his series, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, to be released next week, The Australian reports.

In Phillip Noyce’s award-winning film, three young indigenous girls are snatched from their family’s embrace on a remote settlement in Western Australia, forcibly removed by a racist government bent on “breeding out the colour”.

Based on a true story, the movie tells of Molly, Daisy and Gracie and their remarkable 2000km trek home following the rabbit fence. It remains the most vivid and poignant example yet of what has come to be known as the Stolen Generations.

The problem is, this big-screen version of their journey, which is now a staple of school curriculums across the country, does not include all the details of the original story.

Windschuttle has researched the experiences of sisters Molly Craig, 14, Daisy Kadibill, 8, and their cousin Gracie Fields, 10, for his book.

According to the historian, Molly and Gracie were removed from their families on the Jigalong Depot more than 75 years ago because of their “sexual activity with white men working in the area”.

The West Australian chief protector responsible for their removal, Auber Octavius Neville, had not been trying to “breed out the colour” by marrying off half-caste Aboriginal girls to whites as depicted in the film, Windschuttle said.

His claim was born of a review of state archives, where he found a letter to A.O. Neville in December 1930 by a Mrs Chellow, from Murra Munda Station near Jigalong, in which Molly and Gracie were accused of “running wild with the whites”.

“Running wild’ was said to be a contemporary euphemism for promiscuity, which meant the girls were having sex with the white males in the area,” Windschuttle writes in the preface of his new work.

He told The Australian yesterday: “They didn’t say these girls were sc—ing boys, they said they were running wild . . . anyone from that era knows the meaning of the term.

“That is the big lie of the film. Neville did not use child removal in order to breed out the race.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Canada Recalls Spitting Diplomat From Tanzania

A Canadian junior envoy who caused a diplomatic spat by spitting at a Tanzanian policeman and journalist has been recalled.

Canada’s High Commissioner Robert Orr was summoned by the Tanzanian foreign ministry over the incident last week.

“In the best interest of all involved parties, the Canadian official will be leaving Tanzania at the earliest possible time,” Mr Orr said.

However, the journalist concerned says he still wants to take legal action.

“Justice must be done. Repatriating him is only one stage, but it doesn’t mean that it’s over. I will go to the police, to make sure that they hold his passport,” Jerry Muro, from the Tanzanian Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) told the local HabariLeo newspaper.

He says he was spat on at the police station where the diplomat was taken last Wednesday.

The diplomat was arrested after he reportedly spat at a traffic policeman on duty in the middle of a traffic jam in the Banana district on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania’s foreign ministry says the incident was a humiliation not just for the police officer and journalist concerned, but for the entire country.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Pictured: Islamic Militants Stone Man to Death for Adultery in Somalia as Villagers Are Forced to Watch

Mohamed Abukar Ibrahim, a 48-year-old, was buried in a hole up to his chest and pelted with rocks until he died.

The group responsible, Hizbul Islam, also shot dead a man they claimed was a murderer.

But the verdict was so shocking that it prompted a gun battle between rivals within the group that left three militants dead, witnesses said.

The executions took place yesterday in Afgoye, some 20 miles south-west of the capital of Mogadishu.

Hizbul Islam fighters ordered hundreds of residents to a field, where a rebel judge announced that the two men had confessed to murder and adultery.

A woman who had confessed to fornication had been sentenced to 100 lashes, he added.

‘This is their day of justice,’ the judge, Osman Siidow Hasan, told the crowd. ‘We investigated and they confessed.’

But when some Hizbul Islam fighters wanted to delay the executions, a bloody gun battle broke out between the two factions, shocked residents said.

‘Three Hizbul Islam fighters died and five others were injured after they fought each other,” Halima Osman, an Afgoye shopkeeper, told Reuters in Mogadishu by telephone.

‘Some wanted to delay the execution while the others insisted. They exchanged fire. The group that was against the execution was overpowered and chased away,’ she said.

Once the gun battle was over, the militants coldly carried out the verdicts.

A relative of the murder victim shot the first as he lay on the floor.

‘I could not watch,’ local man Ali Gabow told Reuters. ‘The lady who had been with the second man was only given 100 lashes because she said she had never married.’

The U.S. claims that al Shabaab is al Qaeda’s proxy in the failed Horn of Africa state. That rival Islamic groups are beginning to align their practices with al Shabaab is a chilling twist in the already frightening militancy that is gripping the country.

President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s Western-backed government controls just a few strategic sites in Mogadishu.

Western security experts say the country has become a safe haven for militants, including foreign jihadists, who are using it to plot attacks across the impoverished region and beyond.

There are some fears that Somalia could become the new pre-9/11 Afghanistan.

Al Shabaab, and to a lesser extent Hizbul Islam, are fighting the government to impose their harsh interpretation of Islamic Sharia law across the drought-ravaged country.

Al Shabaab clerics have banned movies, dancing at weddings and playing or watching soccer in the areas under their control, as well as carrying out executions and amputations.

Fighting has killed 19,000 Somali civilians since the start of 2007 and driven another 1.5 million from their homes, triggering one of the world’s most acute humanitarian disasters.

The chaos has also spilled offshore, where Somali pirate gangs have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms targeting commercial shipping in the Indian Ocean and busy Gulf of Aden.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Study Reveals Impact of Immigration on UK Faiths

Britain is home to 1.1 million Muslim immigrants, according to a comprehensive study of faith and migration.

The finding will be published in a report by the IPPR, the respected left-of-centre think-tank, which will conclude that thousands of Muslims have moved to the UK because it is more sympathetic towards Islam than other European countries.

It comes days after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the proportion of the UK population who are foreign-born has almost doubled in the past 20 years to 11 per cent, or 6.7 million people.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Total Hits 2.4m as They Say: UK’s Nicest to Us

BRITAIN’S Muslim population has hit 2.4million because the UK is seen as the best country in Europe for the Islamic faith, a report is to reveal.

There are 1.1million Muslim immigrants and 1.3million UK-born Muslims — mostly the ­children of newcomers.

Muslims quizzed said there was less open hostility to Islam in Britain than other EU countries and that the Government is ­sympathetic to them.

But critics seized on the f­indings as confirmation that Labour’s multicultural policies are pandering to Islam.

Sir Andrew Green, of the ­pressure group Migrationwatch, warned the Muslim ­population in Britain was likely to be even higher than research showed.

He said: “The rapid rise in the Muslim population is just one way in which mass immigration promoted, even encouraged, by this Government has affected the whole nature of our society.”

Muslim illegal immigrants were unlikely to respond to Government-linked surveys, he added.

The population research is to be published next month in a new “faith map” of the UK drawn up by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a think-tank with close links to 10 Downing Street.

Even the authors admit the increasing numbers of immigrants of different religions will be “challenging” for social cohesion in the UK. The report found in the past decade a rise of 275,000 in the number of Muslims who were born in Pakistan or Bangladesh living in Britain.

The increase is equivalent to twice the population of Oxford.

And the number of Somali-born UK residents had also risen sharply — from fewer than 40,000 in 1999 to 106,700 this year.

Many of the newcomers had migrated to Britain from other parts of the European Union.

They claimed to prefer the UK because of “latent Islamaphobia” abroad, the report said.

The “faith map” showed that 4.5million immigrants living in Britain had a religious affiliation.

Of those, around a quarter were Muslim and more than half Christian. Polish Catholics and African Pentecostals also were also among the fastest-growing religious communities in the UK.

The findings were based on previously unpublished results of the Labour Force Survey, which quizzes 200,000 people each year.

Researchers said traditional church attendance had declined over the last decade but evangelical Christianity was growing.

The report, called Faith, ­Migration and Integration in the UK, says: “A challenging change is that brought about by the arrival of migrants with an established faith organisation whose traditions and beliefs differ from that of the UK-born population.”

A separate report found British Muslims are the most patriotic in Europe. Seventy-eight per cent think of themselves as British, says the Open Society Institute. In Germany it was 23 per cent.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

‘Witch Hunt’ Expected Under New U.S. ‘Hate Crimes’ Law

Lawyer who handled Boissoin saga says Obama plans to bring back ‘inquisitions’

The lawyer who handled the years-long battle by Pastor Stephen Boissoin over “hate speech” charges for a letter he wrote to the editor of a local newspaper that cited the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality is forecasting a nationwide “witch hunt” in the U.S. prompted by an expanded “hate crimes” law signed by President Obama.


“I would be shocked if you did not have 100 times more problems with this legislation than we are. Your system is set up to encourage lawyers to do this, and you have so many more people, there is more opportunity for people to take offense,” he said.

“There are certain people in society who look to the government for everything, including to help them with their hurt feelings. The government was never made for that,” he said.

Regardless, “there are those who want the government to bless their approach to life, whatever it is, because they have this view. They come to the point they want the government to say … you are right.”

“We’ve learned from history that’s a very bad idea. You get persecution, which is exactly what’s happening here,” he said.

Then those interests want the “power of the state to punish anyone who disagrees,” he said. The result is, “doing exactly what we did 500 years ago. They will be going on a witch hunt, [repeating] the Spanish Inquisition.”

“This is not theoretical. We’ve already seen it, hospitals, school boards, religious organizations pummeled with this. There are board meetings going on as we speak … talking about what they can do to avoid having complaints,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Garbage in, Global Warming Out

My colleague, Dan Calabrese, summarized what happened:

The exposure of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia demonstrate beyond a shadow of any doubt that — at the very least — global warmist climate researchers a) dumped data they didn’t want others to see; b) manipulated data to hide information that didn’t support their preconceived conclusions; c) didn’t know how to explain the lack of warming over the past decade; and d) conspired to attack their critics and prevent their work from being published.

My colleague, Dan Sherrier, called it what it really is, a scam:

Global warming is perhaps the most brilliant scam in all of history.

Less ethical scientists who want government subsidies can offer interpretations of data that further a politician’s ability to justify seizing more power. Or, you can invest in “green” companies, knowing that the government will stack the decks for those companies to do well. There’s plenty to gain.

And, my colleague Jerome Corsi reported on honest research that shows global cooling for the last decade over the United States and Canada:

The mainstream media is reporting the World Meteorological Organization’s assessment of global average temperatures asserting this decade is “the warmest on record,” without mentioning the WMO data actually documents the United States and Canada experienced cooler-than-average conditions since 2000.

To provide one more blow to the junk science used to produce a political result for the United Nations and the Obama administration, I will draw upon my formal education in mathematics and computer science, and my early professional experiences using mathematical modeling, to explain how easy and tempting it was for the named climatologists to do what they did.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Inconvenient Truth for Al Gore as His North Pole Sums Don’t Add Up

There are many kinds of truth. Al Gore was poleaxed by an inconvenient one yesterday.

The former US Vice-President, who became an unlikely figurehead for the green movement after narrating the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became entangled in a new climate change “spin” row.

Mr Gore, speaking at the Copenhagen climate change summit, stated the latest research showed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free in five years.

In his speech, Mr Gore told the conference: “These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Dr [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.”

However, the climatologist whose work Mr Gore was relying upon dropped the former Vice-President in the water with an icy blast.

“It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at,” Dr Maslowski said. “I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

Mr Gore’s office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a “ballpark figure” several years ago in a conversation with Mr Gore.

The embarrassing error cast another shadow over the conference after the controversy over the hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which appeared to suggest that scientists had manipulated data to strengthen their argument that human activities were causing global warming.

Mr Gore is not the only titan of the world stage finding Copenhagen to be a tricky deal.

World leaders — with Gordon Brown arriving tonight in the vanguard — are facing the humiliating prospect of having little of substance to sign on Friday, when they are supposed to be clinching an historic deal.

Meanwhile, five hours of negotiating time were lost yesterday when developing countries walked out in protest over the lack of progress on their demand for legally binding emissions targets from rich nations. The move underlined the distrust between rich and poor countries over the proposed legal framework for the deal.

Last night key elements of the proposed deal were unravelling. British officials said they were no longer confident that it would contain specific commitments from individual countries on payments to a global fund to help poor nations to adapt to climate change while the draft text on protecting rainforests has also been weakened.

Even the long-term target of ending net deforestation by 2030 has been placed in square brackets, meaning that the date could be deferred. An international monitoring system to identify illegal logging is now described in the text as optional, where before it was compulsory. Negotiators are also unable to agree on a date for a global peak in greenhouse emissions.

Perhaps Mr Gore had felt the need to gild the lily to buttress resolve. But his speech was roundly criticised by members of the climate science community. “This is an exaggeration that opens the science up to criticism from sceptics,” Professor Jim Overland, a leading oceanographer at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

“You really don’t need to exaggerate the changes in the Arctic.”

Others said that, even if quoted correctly, Dr Maslowski’s six-year projection for near-ice-free conditions is at the extreme end of the scale. Most climate scientists agree that a 20 to 30-year timescale is more likely for the near-disappearance of sea ice.

“Maslowski’s work is very well respected, but he’s a bit out on a limb,” said Professor Peter Wadhams, a specialist in ocean physics at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Maslowki, who works at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice, but he said he expects some ice to remain beyond 2020.

He added: “I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this,” he said. “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at, based on the information I provided to Al Gore’s office.”

Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist at the Massachusets Institute of Technology who does not believe that global warming is largely caused by man, said: “He’s just extrapolated from 2007, when there was a big retreat, and got zero.”

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Anonymous said...

What a depressing way to start the day... You people need more cheerful news too. :P